Since ARKit debuted within iOS 11 on September 19 last year, iPhone and iPad owners worldwide have downloaded and installed more than 13 million ARKit-only apps. The data comes from Sensor Tower, which broke down the most popular categories of augmented reality apps fueled by ARKit, the top 10 free and paid apps, highest grossing apps, and more.
Games remain the dominant category for ARKit-only apps -- or those apps built "expressly using" Apple's framework -- having grown from representing 35 percent of downloads one month after iOS 11's launch, to 47 percent today. The second place category, Utilities, decreased from 19 percent last October to 15 percent in March. Rounding out the top six were Entertainment, Lifestyle, Photo & Video, and Education.
Sensor Tower pointed out that for the games-specific charts, the top spots of all three sections (free, paid, grossing) were "still occupied by many of the same titles that found success several months ago," suggesting not much variation in ARKit-only gaming on the App Store. On the other hand, when the researchers looked at non-game apps they saw multiple newcomers rising on the charts, like LEGO AR Studio -- "a testament to the popularity of kid-focused AR content on the App Store thus far."
From what we’ve seen in our latest analysis, ARKit-only apps only continue to grow in terms of installs and the number of experiences available to users. This isn’t including the numerous ARKit-compatible apps that have added some degree of AR functionality in the past six months and have pushed the number of AR apps on the App Store well beyond 2,000 to date.
Popular free game "AR Dragon" retained the top spot as the most-downloaded free ARKit-only app and game during the framework's first six months of availability. Other augmented reality apps that remain popular on the App Store include IKEA Place (#2 free apps), AR MeasureKit (#5 free apps/#5 top grossing), and CamToPlan Pro (#1 paid apps). For both paid and grossing categories, ARKit app downloads are leaning "predominantly" to the Utilities category.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has described augmented reality as "profound" in the past, claiming that Apple is in a "unique position" to lead when it comes to the technology. He thinks that AR will become "as key as having a website" for brands, and sees ARKit as the start of something much bigger: "This is very much like in 2008 when we fired the gun in the App Store. That's what it feels like to me and I think it will just get bigger from here."